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|Planetlifter Air Transport|
|Tech Base||Inner Sphere|
|Engine (Type)||GM 200 Turbine|
|Fuel||320 - 2 tons|
|Communications System||Irian UHF|
|Targeting Tracking System||None|
|Armament||External hardpoints only|
A typical example of the conventional support aircraft available to planetary garrisons and militias across the Inner Sphere, the Free Worlds League-produced Planetlifter is able to quickly transport combat elements more cheaply than a DropShip flight. For this reason, Planetlifters are placed under the direct command of a planet's garrison commander, allowing for enhanced strategic mobility between battlefields.
First produced in 2598 the Planetlifter is a very rugged aircraft, though it is only protected by three tons of armor. Its VSTOL capability allows the craft to operate away from established airfields, usually one of the first targets in a planetary invasion. The aircraft can take off and land from any area with at least 400 feet of open space.
Weapons and Equipment
Befitting its role as a support aircraft, the Planetlifter features no integral weaponry. Although it comes with external wing-mounted hard points, these are rarely used for carrying weaponry.
The Planetlifter features a total cargo capacity of seventy tons. Its forward armored hold can carry up to twenty tons and is able to divide this bay with removable bulkheads to suit various cargoes. The remaining fifty tons can be carried in the unprotected rear bay.
Where the Planetlifter differs from other similar aircraft of its size and role is its unique separating fuselage. While Combat Vehicles and Infantry can board via normal cargo ramps at the nose and tail, the Planetlifter can use its variable landing gear to lower itself onto the ground and then detach the lower half of its fuselage and cargo bay. After rolling away, the now exposed cargo bay floor is highly suitable for carrying either one large BattleMech, such as a Warhammer, or a pair of smaller 'Mechs, such as the Wasp and Stinger, who merely lie down on the floor. After the ground crews secure the 'Mech(s) and the Planetlifter returns and reconnects, the combined aircraft is ready for take-off. An experienced crew can land, load the Planetlifter and take off in under fifteen minutes.
This feature makes the Planetlifter highly attractive to buyers. A large number of air-mobile militia and front-line 'Mech units in the Free Worlds League utilize the Planetlifter, with "Load Contests" held every few years to see which crew can load them the fastest. A few units went further, the Silver Hawk Irregulars used custom built Planetlifters to transport and air-drop Stinger and Wasp BattleMechs.
- Support Aircraft
- This experimental variant uses Vehicular Stealth Armor and an Angel ECM Suite to hide from enemy forces. The Support version also mounts an Arrow IV launcher to provide fire support. For tactical coordination, the Planetlifter Support Aircraft carries a Look-Down Radar and a Cockpit Command Console. Unfortunately the designers had to remove the VSTOL equipment from the standard version to make room for all this equipment, and the armor is still limited by the conventional airframe. Simulations show that once enemy AeroSpace Fighters know that the PSA is in the area, it is quickly destroyed. The Planetlifter Support Aircraft entered production in 3082 and the entire production runs have been purchased by the Marik Commonwealth. The PSA's are assigned in Squadron-size groups to AeroSpace Fighter wings that specialize in ground support. BV (2.0) = 475
- Record Sheets: 3039
- Master Unit List entry
- Record Sheets: 3039
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 13
- Technical Readout: 3039, pp. 186-187
- Technical Readout: 3026, p. 58
- Field Manual: Free Worlds League, p. 89
- Record Sheets: 3039
- Technical Readout: Prototypes, p. 160
- Experimental Technical Readout: Corporations, p. 16
- Record Sheets: Prototypes, p. 80